Ruth Benedict | Anthropology Theory Project | FANDOM powered by Wikia
Academic Recognition: Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict and Sexual Secrecy . Homosexuality and heterosexuality have always held differ- ent relations to. Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict are considered to be the two most influential and famous. The views of Franz Boas and some his students (such as Ruth Benedict) argued against that of The field developed more withlater work by Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict. A second view was that anti-culture-personality relationship.
I have sometimes felt myself doubly bereaved as well, having radically to reconsider my convictions about who she was and therefore, in LEE WALLACE relationship to her, about who I was and am, surprised at last by the sense of continuing recognition Bateson, the daughter of the bisexual Mead, has to recover an understanding of her own family as always having been awash with disavowed lesbian impulse. Bateson's narrative of sexual recognition thereby reveals something so simple we tend to forget it: The home that has always contained homosexual expressivities is Downloaded by [University of Sydney] at In this, sexuality differs from race or ethnicity, the transmission of which is under- pinned by the generational capacities and cultural sway of the family.
Precisely because homosexuality does not reproduce itself along familial lines, there is a gen- eral cultural anxiety about where and how it does propagate. Recognizing that "the mimetic function of the educational process is precisely what invokes, impels, or institutes desire, No surprise then that pedagogical sites are among those most zealously guarded against the fancied encroachment of homosexuality, whether that trespass is imagined with respect to curricula developments or gay teachers, the two very frequently syn- onymous in the minds of the defenders of heterosexual youth.
Academic Recognition Something was going on at Columbia, but to understand what it was we have to put aside the heated imaginings of the biographers and look at some cool statistics. From througha span reflecting the more tenuous consolidation of Benedict's position within the Department - she arrived as a doctoral student inbecame Boas' teaching assistant and administrative right hand a few years later, but had to wait ten years before win- ning the security of tenure - twenty men and nineteen women received PhDs in anthropology from Columbia, for a total from through of twenty-nine male and Downloaded by [University of Sydney] at Those statistics talk when placed beside these: Harvard from through graduated fifty-three male anthropology PhDs and no women.
Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict
From through the University of Chicago did marginally better, graduating in anthropology twenty- eight men and two women PhDs. But statistics can hide as much as they reveal and we need to question the Columbia results more sceptically. On the surface they suggest a wel- come even-handedness, but the numbers are a little deceptive and that is because, by several accounts, the men that gradu- ated from this Department were not your average Joes. All Benedict's biographers agree that she and Boas created a "familial" atmosphere at Columbia by blurring the bound- aries of the professional and the private.
Conduct acceptable to them included waiving requirements, editing papers, loan- ing money, giving it outright, all things done in order to enable students to keep studying see Caffrey But certain discriminations applied and gossip in the depart- ment claimed that Benedict favoured and encouraged female students, Jews and those men who "rejected customary pat- terns of [masculine] behaviour" Modell Both Boas and Benedict were said to go that extra mile for "the unusual personality, the less conventional student, not only for per- sonal reasons but also for anthropological reasons.
These ex-students are eloquent in the tongue of the disenfranchised, complaining of the freemasonry which did not extend its secret handshake to them. Given that so much of Caffrey's biogra- phy is devoted to unravelling Benedict's lesbianism, and the necessarily veiled expression it took in her personal and pro- fessional life, the reference to students mutely at odds with those around them, invites us to accept "misfit" as a place- marker for "homosexual".
So, it seems that all those students that deviated from an unspoken norm - women, Jews, homo- sexuals - were held in orbit by the pull of those two loco- parental figures, Boas and Benedict. In this version of things, it is as though all Boas' theoretical and political arguments against eugenics shaped Columbia as this place of greater safety.
Intertwined Lives: Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, and Their Circle by Lois W. Banner
The uniqueness of Columbia at that moment was not in its being an educational institution which conflated the transmission of knowledge and sexuality - after all, that phantasm continues to animate many a schoolhouse - but in Boasian anthropology's attempt to legitimate that conflation. Disciplining Sexuality Mead has always been a troublesome figure for anthropology, someone at the periphery of its scholarship but central to its public ceremonies and popularist manifestations.
Freeman's scientism is directed against the subjective interpretative sym- pathy that was anthropology as Mead embodied it. The dis- grace of Mead takes on the force and necessity of a ritual sacrifice and, under Freeman's name, the two corrective ambi- tions blur: By his logic, the twenty-three year old Mead, confined in Ta'u to the precincts of a girls' boarding school, doesn't know much about love because she doesn't know much about men.
Freeman's overstatement of statistics of Samoan male violence and criminal rape can start to seem the aggressive administering of a lesson a girl is not likely to for- get, testifying to Sedgwick's hunch that "under this regime [of Downloaded by [University of Sydney] at As both Clifford's and Dennis Porter's reviews of Freeman's book note, his project is an impossible one; its fan- tasy is that anthropology might be re-founded as a cultural science always outside the operations of textuality or repre- sentation see Porter ; Clifford It strikes me that unlike Freeman's book, which seems destined to repeat the epistemic violence necessary to drive a wedge once and for all between a knowledge and its ignorances, Mead's work is not naive about the contaminations of sex and text.
In her autobiographical Blackberry Winter, there is another allegory, this time an allegory of reading relations. Mead gives an account of her New Guinea field work, and the hours spent in "the mosquito room" working away with two anthropologists, husband Reo Fortune and Gregory Bateson, to whom she initially admits a professional respect. Respect becomes desire and requires the sexual rejection of Fortune with the arrival of a new book in the tropical outpost - the manuscript of Benedict's Patterns of Culture.
The discussion her ex-lover's book generates is the occasion for a swivelling of sexual allegiance. Reflecting on this triangulation of identi- fications and rivalries Mead observes: There is much to be said for the suggestion that the true oedipal situ- ation is not the primal scene but parents talking to each other in words the child does not understand.
In this account, the sexual and intellectual exclusion are one and the same, both too are marked by an almost disregard for gender. Fortune is barred from the intimacies of an exchange he cannot understand and, cruelly, every time he attempts a contribution he merely sounds his own inadequacy. Ruin Culture is always fast disappearing - ethnography never cap- tures the final truth of a culture but tells its ruin.
The culture my nostalgia arcs toward is also a fantasy and also under threat. Like those outmoded anthropologists at Columbia, I want to assume that personal and professional lives are con- tinuous - and that why we do the work we do might have something to do with desire. The crossings of desire and knowledge are difficult - a university, for instance, cannot legislate for or against them - but, as Sedgwick cautions, we might "attend with every possible sophistication to the exclu- sionary and inflictive involvements of our knowledges" Some athletic knowledges - let's call them, after Freeman, sciences - are pumped up by the will to know and the power of unknowing.
The work we do might be the place to tap more fragile relays of knowledge, to tell other quieter histories. It would be nice if the discipline could provide that continuity, if it could in some way preserve and renew the recognition of homosexuality, if it could bear the traces of those entanglements that our homophobic culture would otherwise erase.
Perhaps especially for those of us with sub- jectivities estranged from the generation of marriage plots, the profession remains, for richer or poorer, a location for the recognitions that comprise our sexual selves. Culture, if we are to survive it, must be made to account for its compulsory silences and vested ignorances. Notes Downloaded by [University of Sydney] at Thanks are due to Professor Richard Freadman and Sue Martin who invited me there, and, as well, to the anonymous reader who prompted and directed the redrafting.
The term "sleep crawling" is taken from Margaret Mead's anthropolog- ical classic ofComing of Age in Samoa: In her study of the sexual behaviour of young Samoan girls and youths, she observes that the clandestine nocturnal assignations of lovers are open to "abuse" by the male "moetatolo or sleep crawler" who, under cover of night, is mistaken for another and so achieves the "surreptitious rape" of one whose favours would other- wise elude him Mead The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth, goes to reprint after reprint, gaining wider and wider readership.
The notoriety of Freeman's book, however, seems confined to academic circles, where its claims against Mead's method- ology have generated a book-length defence of her fieldwork Holmes More recently, Eleanor Leacock has charged that Freeman's work is continuous with Mead's insofar as it can be said to share the insufficiency of her outmoded and ahistorical functionalist frame.
It shouldn't come as any surprise that the disciplinary relations of the closet or the open secret map so readily the contours of the liberal edu- cation.
Like many others, the university which employs me does not discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation nor, perhaps, does it have to; rather, gay people are disciplined at work, caught most effectively in regimes of tolerance, sheltered and confined by liberal dispensation.
The scope and profile of Mead's interventions in the drafting and debate of American social and educational policy is indicated in the breadth of her bibliography Gordan Porter makes the point that, although the word hermeneutics does not appear in her book One can only conclude that the kind of anthropology of which Coming of Age in Samoa is a classic example is an unselfconscious form of hermeneutics mas- querading as a hard science.
The hesitations and confusions that are apparent in Mead's discourse, in the heterogeneity of its regis- ters and contradictory discursive practices, derive, then, from a Downloaded by [University of Sydney] at Moreover if Derek Freeman makes no comment on such blindness fifty years later in over three hundred and fifty pages of commentary, it is because he apparently still shares it Porter Bestowed by Edward Said, orientalism is the critical term for the ideo- logical shadows European representation casts or projects onto the blankness of the East.Margaret Mead - 221564-02 - Footage Farm
Clifford, reflecting on Said's watershed publica- tion, draws attention to the way in which Said's Orientalism, while mounted in objection to European misrepresentation of the East, "fre- quently relapses into the essentialising modes it attacks and is [itself] ambivalently enmeshed in the totalising habits of Western humanism" Clifford For more discussion of the impact of Orientalism on the analysis of colonial representation, see Robert J. Young's White Mythologies and Colonial Desire.
The article offended Benedict. Another followed in which Sapir, speaking of homosexuality as "unnatural", remarks that "the cult of the 'natural- ness' of homosexuality fools no one but those who need a rationalisation of their personal sex problems" quoted in Caffrey Presumably the cult of unnaturalness performs the same rationalizing function. Countering liberatory claims of sexual self-declaration, Judith Butler What or who is it that is "out", made manifest and fully disclosed, when and if I reveal myself as a lesbian?
What is it that is now known, anything? What remains permanently concealed by the very linguistic act that offers up the promise of a transparent reve- lation of sexuality? Can sexuality even remain sexuality once it submits to a criterion of transparency and disclosure, or does it perhaps cease to be sexuality precisely when the semblance of full explicitness is achieved? When writing an early version of this paper, I had the depressing expe- rience of seeing Four Weddings and a Funeral dir.
The liberal film interrupts its repeated celebration of heterosexuality - one wedding, then another, then another and yet again another - long enough to memorialize a sexuality that is passing from sight: Newell's film reminds me of D. Miller's explanation of why he always cries at weddings. Not some moist-eyed queen moved to tears at one reverential remove from the altar-rail - the wedding's good fairy - Miller points to the brutal symbolic violence of the wed- Downloaded by [University of Sydney] at As Annamarie Jagose elaborates in "Sexual Discipline" The anxiety around the conflation of the homosexual and the pedagogic is not simply the result of the perceived transmissibil- ity of homosexuality; it is also because the educative process is peculiarly vulnerable to homosexuality, insofar as it is also fig- ured as a process of transformation and conversion, of initiation and emulation.
For if the fevered imaginings of homosexual cor- ruption has innocent youth, removed from the known and pro- tective sphere of their families, bending their backs under the instruction of an attractive adult who rewards and punishes as he or she sees fit and by whose standard the children eventually come to measure themselves, then equally such scenarios are daily enacted in another cultural space, that of the classroom.
These figures are taken from Caffrey's chapter "Academic Politics" Caffrey Anonymous though these voices are - and they pepper the biogra- phies - each is identified as a prominent anthropologist. These WASPs were obviously not that strapped for slick professional pathways, and predictably the routine removal was to Chicago and the boysy Radcliffe- Brown. It is nothing new to note that what operates as a supportive community for one person is for another a hostile environment - but some forms of clubbability seem always to go unremarked.
Stranger in This Land, Austin: University of Texas Press. The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography, J. Benedict wrote in her journals, which Margaret Mead later wrote about, that she had always felt she didn't fit into roles appropriate to her sex and her time; she excelled in school and used reading and writing as an escape from family relationships and duties Mead She received a scholarship to Vassar College in and studied English literature; although she was still solitary while in school.
Benedict graduated in and had already published poetry and prize winning critical essays. Shortly thereafter she left for Los Angeles where she taught for a year at the Westlake School for Girls. Benedict also worked from in the Orton School for girls in Pasadena. Margaret Mead stated from journals provided to her by Benedict, that throughout these years Benedict wasn't pleased with job positions available for women, she felt she needed more in her life Mead Margaret Caffrey pointed out in her biography of Benedict, that Benedict "had discovered within three years of leaving college, the limited possibilities open to women" Caffrey Benedict wrote in her journals that she had come to think of suburban life as worse than the worst slums, and she felt that living the suburban life was destroying her soul Mead She longed for a child that never came but she knew that having a child would add a color into her marriage with Stanley, but her desperate need was to find herself, she wanted to commit herself to a way of life that had meaning for her and that drew on all her talents.
Her marriage was far from happy, and Benedict was preoccupied with her own ambitions and her sense of futility Mead Margaret Mead writes, from information found in Benedict's journal that Benedict dealt with her unhappy marriage by writing in her journal. Benedict also wrote poems as an outlet, which she later published under the pseudonym Anne Singleton.
Benedict wrote in her journal about her struggles and her maturing sense of what the issues were for the women of her generation who, like herself, were struggling to break the bonds of their traditional identifications. Benedict was interested in the lives of influential women and she devoted much of her writing in this period of her life to her biography, New Women of Three Centuries, on Mary Wollstonecraftwho had endorsed the principles of the French Revolution, Margaret Fullerwho was interested in Italy's fight for independence, and Olive Schreinerwho battled racism in her home country, South Africa BabcockModell Benedict soon discovered that for these three women, war had provided them with a purpose to become part of a greater and "just" cause.
According to Modell, each of them had extended their personal experience of the suppression of women to a battle against the suppression of any group Modell Benedict eventually decided to concentrate her biography on the life and work of Mary Wollstonecraft.
Once she completed her draft of the Wollstonecraft essay she sent it and a prospectus for the book, which was now titled Adventures in Womanhood, to Houghton Mifflin; they rejected her essay Babcock Introduction to Anthropology Edit Benedict was introduced to anthropology in while she attended the New School for Social Research.
According to Mead, this was initially an attempt to fill her time intelligently while she waited patiently to have a child. Benedict spent two years listening to lectures given by Alexander Goldenweiser and Elsie Clews Parsons. Caffrey states that Goldenweiser belonged to the generation of anthropologists who came to maturity before World War l, he was excited by ideas about culture but was not intrigued by fieldwork Caffrey During the time Benedict was attending Goldenweiser's lectures, he was working on the first book to be published by an American anthropologist.
His book, Early Civilization, published inpresented cultures briefly as wholes. Goldenweiser's students learned from him what culture was. According to Mead, Benedict found in this new science a substance she could respect, and felt this was a place she could use her talents and also find answers to her most pressing personal questions Mead Boas waved requirements and admitted Benedict as a graduate student.
Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict | University of Massachusetts Press
According to Modell, soon after Benedict arrived at Columbia she began taking classes, teaching seminars, and guiding graduate students who were not far behind her in their careers Modell Benedict often times taught Boas's classes when he had other obligations pressed upon him. Margaret Mead states that Benedict came to the anthropology department at a time when Boas was still interested in diffusion and in having his students make connections between traits and themes throughout different cultures.
In his lectures Boas spent most of his time pointing out the errors of all single explanations of the origins, forms, or changes in human culture Mead He discussed nineteenth century English evolutionists, geographical determinists, the German diffusionist school, the English diffusionist school, theories of religion, and psychological theories Mead Caffrey points out in her biography of Benedict, that Benedict gained insider status among anthropologists with her publication of The Vision in Plains Culture which dealt with the multiplicity of ways the phenomenon of vision had manifested itself in various Indian cultures Caffrey The rare description of her own field work with the Blackfeet appear in the Margaret Mead Archives in the Library of Congress.
Benedict's Involvement in Anthropology Edit By Benedict had finished her dissertation and had turned her attention to her students work and departmental business.
From to she was given temporary teaching jobs either at Barnard College or Columbia University. When teaching, Benedict underplayed method and stressed faith and inspiration in students work. She, like Boas stressed the importance of fieldwork; she thought that exposure to strange customs was crucial and illuminating Modell Benedict strongly encouraged students to take trips for fieldwork, and often times assisted in funding these trips.
In Benedict took over Boas's position as president of the American Ethnological Society and she also began editing and expanding the Journal of American Folklore Modell During this time, Benedict also significantly influenced the definition and the shape of the concept of culture through her studies in mythology and religion Caffrey Caffrey points out that much of Benedict's work led back to the role of human life and the dynamics of cultural change Caffrey In Benedict became an assistant professor at Columbia University, and she was honored in when she became one of the first women to be included in the Biographical Directory of American Men of Science.
In Benedict became an associate professor at Columbia. Ralph Linton replaced Boas, and the department changed.
Franz Boas died in while Benedict was working in Washington D. By Benedict had published five articles but no full length book. According to Modell, she had a desire to prove herself to Boas and to write something substantial and encompassing Modell Mead stated that in Benedict had been influenced to write Patterns of Culture after listening to Alfred Kroeber's lectures on cultural configurations; she felt that his lectures and contributions to seminars were dry Mead